Category — CREW
The Sumatran rhino is considered the most endangered of all rhino species and perhaps the most endangered large mammal on Earth. It is estimated that no more than 100 animals exist on the island of Sumatra in Indonesia. The Zoo has worked for more than 30 years to save this species from extinction. Scientific breakthroughs by scientists at the Zoo’s Lindner Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) resulted in the birth of three calves at the Zoo, the first place to successfully breed this critically endangered species in captivity in over a century.
By 2014, only one Sumatran rhino remained in the Western hemisphere, a lone male named Harapan. With no chance to bring a female to the United States, the Zoo made the difficult yet significant decision to send Harapan to the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Indonesia and transported him there in late October. There he will have the chance to mate and contribute to the survival of his species. It is the end of an era at the Cincinnati Zoo, but a fresh new hope for the Sumatran rhino. The Cincinnati Zoo remains committed to saving the Sumatran rhino by supporting Rhino Protection Units in the wild and continuing to lend support to the breeding program at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary.
Join me in a celebration of the milestones achieved by the Zoo’s Sumatran rhino breeding program over the past 30 years, with special thanks to the tireless dedication and commitment of Dr. Terri Roth, her team of CREW scientists, and the rhino keepers.
Sumatran Rhino Breeding Program Timeline
1984 – The Zoo officially formed a partnership (The Sumatran Rhino Trust Agreement) with Indonesia to establish a Sumatran rhino captive breeding program.
1989 – The Zoo received its first Sumatran rhino, a female named Mahatu.
1991 – The Zoo received its first male Sumatran rhino, Ipuh. Unfortunately, initial breeding attempts with Mahatu were unsuccessful and she passed away in 1992.
1995 – The Zoo received a new female Sumatran rhino named Emi.
1996 – CREW scientists initiated research into the reproductive physiology of Sumatran rhinos using endocrinology and ultrasonography.
1997 – The first successful mating was achieved with Emi and Ipuh. Unfortunately, she lost the pregnancy by day 42 of gestation.
1998-1999 – Four additional pregnancies were confirmed by ultrasound; all were lost by three months of gestation.
2000 – A sixth pregnancy was confirmed. This time, Emi was prescribed a hormone supplement.
September 13, 2001 – Success! Emi gave birth to the first Sumatran rhino calf bred and born in captivity in 112 years. He was named Andalas.
July 30, 2004 – Emi gave birth to a second calf, a female named Suci.
February 19, 2007 – Andalas was relocated to the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary in Indonesia with the goal of breeding with a female there.
April 29, 2007 – A third calf, a male named Harapan, was born at the Zoo to Emi.
September 5, 2009 – Sadly, Emi passed away due to hemochromatosis, or iron storage disease. Her legacy lives on.
2010 – Andalas bred his mate, Ratu, producing the first pregnancy for the Indonesian breeding program. Unfortunately, Ratu lost her first pregnancy.
2011 – Ratu conceived for the third time and was prescribed the same hormone supplement successfully employed with Emi at the Cincinnati Zoo in the effort to produce Andalas.
June 23, 2012 – Ratu gave birth to a calf named Andatu at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary; he is the first captive bred and born Sumatran rhino in Southeast Asia.
February 2013 – Ipuh passes away from thyroid cancer at the approximate age of 33 years old. He was one of the oldest Sumatran rhinos in captivity.
March 30, 2014 – Sadly, Suci passes away from hemochromatosis, the same iron storage disease that befell her mother. Though Suci never reproduced, she contributed much to the body of knowledge we now have on Sumatran rhino development and maturation.
October 2014 – To carry on Ipuh’s legacy, his preserved remains are displayed at the Cincinnati Museum Center as part of the zoology collection.
2014 – The Zoo provided matching funds that contributed to a Debt for Nature deal struck between the United States and Indonesia. In return for lowering debt owed to the United States, Indonesia will commit nearly $12.7 million towards the conservation and protection of critically endangered species, including the Sumatran rhino, and their habitats over the next seven years.
October 2015 – Harapan made his journey from the Cincinnati Zoo to Sumatra. The hope is that he can breed with a female at the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary and contribute to the survival of his species. Good luck, Harry! Video of Harapan’s journey to Sumatra.
May 2016 – Expected birth date of Andalas and Ratu’s second calf in Indonesia!
December 1, 2015 No Comments
The Cincinnati Zoo’s female polar bear, Berit, recently had some of her white abdominal fur trimmed, exposing a small patch of her black skin. This is not the latest trend in carnivore fur-styles; instead, the purpose of this haircut is to facilitate ultrasound examinations of the 16-year-old bear to identify signs of pregnancy. Although Berit and male Little One have been together for multiple years, they have not produced any cubs; however, zoo staff has reason to hope that this year might be different.
Earlier this year, Berit failed to show signs of estrus during the normal polar bear breeding season. Rather than let another year pass with no chance of cubs, it was decided to intervene by administering hormones in an attempt to stimulate her ovaries, similar to what humans receive when they seek help with fertility issues. The two hormone injections appeared to be effective, because the pair began breeding soon after the treatment.
Berit is one of the first bears ever to undergo infertility treatments and, even if these efforts fail to help her conceive, she still is advancing scientific knowledge by helping researchers at the Center for Conservation and Research of Endangered Wildlife (CREW) learn more about the unique reproductive physiology of this species. In addition to twice weekly ultrasound examinations (in which she voluntarily participates), her hormone levels are being measured non-invasively by fecal hormone analyses to monitor ovarian activity and indications of pregnancy. If Berit turns out to be pregnant, she would give birth towards the end of the year.
This work is part of CREW’s Polar Bear Signature Project, which aims to study polar bear reproduction and to help overcome reproductive challenges faced by this iconic species. Click here to support CREW’s polar bear research.
October 29, 2015 1 Comment
Rhino Awareness Days
World Rhino Day falls on a Tuesday this year, September 22, so the Zoo is going to celebrate Rhino Awareness Days, free with regular Zoo admission, the following weekend. From 10:00 to 3:00 on September 26 and 27, guests are invited to learn more about rhinos and how we can help save them in the wild.
CREW Volunteers will be on hand at the Sumatran rhino exhibit to tell Harapan’s story, the last Sumatran rhino on exhibit in the United States. Here guests can catch a last glimpse of Harapan before he leaves for Indonesia and wish him well on his journey. With less than 100 Sumatran rhinos left on Earth, Harapan will move to the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary where he will have the opportunity to breed and contribute to his species’ survival. His departure marks the end of an era for the Cincinnati Zoo’s Sumatran rhino breeding program, the only captive breeding program in the United States to produce calves for this critically endangered species. An exact date for Harapan’s departure has not been set, but the Zoo is pushing for the move to happen this fall. Until then, guests can visit him in Wildlife Canyon daily from 9 a.m. – 12:30 p.m., weather permitting.
Speaking of Harapan’s departure, there’s exciting news about his brother, and Cincinnati Zoo born Sumatran rhino, Andalas. The critically-endangered Sumatran rhino population will soon increase by one. In a species with fewer than 100 individuals left on the planet, one is a significant number. Andalas and Ratu are expecting a calf in May 2016. Learn more and see ultra sound images here.
On the other side of the Zoo, guests can engage with Volunteer Educators at the CREW Wild Discover Zone to learn more about all of our rhino research programs. CREW is currently undertaking a project to expand access and build capacity for African and Asian rhino reproductive care within North American zoological facilities. The Zone is set up next to the Indian and black rhino exhibits where guests might get the chance to say hello to our newest rhino resident, a black rhino male named Faru.
Faru is doing great here in his new home and his training is going very well. The keepers are working with him to present both sides of his body on cue and open his mouth to allow them to check his teeth and tongue. This allows them to perform basic foot care, daily baths, and administer medical care when needed with minimal stress to Faru. He and the female, Seyia, are still getting to know each other, and the hope is to put them together for breeding later this fall.
The keepers are also working with CREW to determine the reproductive cycle of our one and only Indian rhino, Manjula, using ultrasound and urine analysis. Manjula is chute-trained, target-trained, and she will hold her mouth open while they shine a flashlight inside to check everything. This training has been essential to administering the hormone to help her ovulate and also give the anesthetics used for her standing sedation procedures- both of which she does willingly and cooperatively! The plan is to artificially inseminate Manjula. The keepers are also currently working on blood draw training and teaching Manjula to stand her rear feet in rubber tubs for a foot soak. (Indian rhinos are prone to foot issues.)
Bowling for Rhinos
What else can you do to help save rhinos? Go bowling! The Greater Cincinnati Chapter of the American Association of Zoo Keepers is holding its second annual Bowling for Rhinos event on October 17 to raise awareness and funds for rhino conservation.To be held from 6:00 to 8:30 at Stone Lanes in Norwood, the event is sure to be tons of fun! In addition to bowling, there will be t-shirts for sale, a silent auction and a raffle to meet a rhino at the Cincinnati Zoo! Buy your tickets online now before they sell out!
September 24, 2015 No Comments